Since we in the journalism/commentary business tend to find negative developments in the world more newsworthy than positive ones, every once in a while it's nice to offer up some good news. The recent release of the annual FBI crime statistics offers just such an opportunity. Crime is not just down over the long term, it seems to be declining every year; in almost every category you can find, crime was down between 2012 and 2013. It's down in cities and suburbs, in violent and non-violent offenses, in north and south, east and west.
Now, it should be said that compared to most of our peer countries, America is still a terrifying hellscape of chaos and cruelty. We have about 17 times as many murders per capita as they do in Iceland, where apparently everyone's too busy huddling together for warmth to kill each other. But let's look at some charts, shall we? First up is overall violent crime:
The average American is only half as likely to be a victim of violent crime as he or she was two decades ago. Here's murder:
And here's car theft:
That's a 63 percent decline in car theft over those two decades. Perhaps the fact that this is the category with the largest drop has something to do with the ubiquity of car alarms. (Remember The Club? Back in the day it didn't stop some dude from repeatedly breaking into my car to steal change and, most disturbingly, use my Chapstick, but that's its own story). In any case, for all the fear-mongering about things that harm almost none of us like terrorism and Ebola, life in the United States is quite a bit safer than it used to be. So take heart.